The harvest is ripe; start where you are, with what you have

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It’s time to equip and mobilize Jesus’ church out of the building and into life.

Matthew 9:35-38

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

There are people to reach; there is a work to be done. And of the greatest dangers of the modern church is that we don’t see this as the most important work. Most times everything else comes before the work of reaching the lost with the Word of God.

As Jesus ministered to the needs of the people all around Him, He met their physical needs, but He was able to see beyond just that. Jesus was able to see the deepest needs of their hearts. As Jesus looked at the multitudes around Him, He was moved with compassion for them. This word literally means “to be moved in the heart.”

He saw the reality of the need of the people all around Him. He saw them as they were, and He sought to share this insight with His disciples. He still wants to share this insight with you and me today! He wants us to see the plight of humanity as He does. He wants us to see people as they really are. He wants us to be moved in the heart just as He was. He wants us to be able to see the harvest through His eyes. That is the thought I want to magnify. I want to preach for a few minutes on this thought: Seeing The Harvest Through His Eyes! May the Lord help us to see the lost people around us like He sees them!

As Jesus looked at the harvest, He acknowledged that fact that it was plentiful and that it was pitiful. But as He saw lost men all around, He also recognized a problem: there were few laborers working in the Father’s field!

You know, that same problem still exists today! Reaping the soul harvest is hard work and few, it seems, are willing to roll up their sleeves and get involved in the work. Jesus called His men to follow Him, promising to make the “fishers of men”, Matt. 4:18-22. Of course, to fish, requires the fisherman to go where the fish are: to the water! Those of you who farm know that the harvest doesn’t just gather itself. You’ve got to get out there, get down where it is and do the dirty work of harvesting it. Wouldn’t it be nice if the green beans picked themselves and piled themselves on your porch? What if the okra, the squash and the corn plucked themselves and came to where you were? Well, it doesn’t work like that! To harvest you garden, you have to go to where the harvest is. The same is true in bringing men to Jesus. We can sit in the church, but we won’t see a harvest until we go were the lost men are living. (Hag. 2:19!) It is dirty work, but it must be done, or the harvest will never be reaped!

Surely we can see that people are in sad shape today, spiritually speaking. Surely we care about them and want to see them saved by grace. May we come to the place where we are not content just to see it, but may we come to the place where we become willing to go into the harvest and reap is for Jesus sake! (Psa. 126:5-6) If we can ever come to see the harvest through His eyes, we will not be content to merely see it, we will have to enter is and work to see men saved. May God grant it!

As Jesus spoke about the harvest and the needs associated with it, He told His men what to do first: Pray! Why pray? Because seeing the harvest brought into the barn is God’s work! He must till the soil of the heart. He must water the seed of the Word that is planted and He must cast the sunshine of grace upon the lost heart, or there will never be a harvest! You see, the new birth is a miracle! It is the awesome work of God in a human heart! Only He can do it and we must pray over the harvest.

As we develop a burden for the lost and begin to pray for them as we should, the Lord will develop a compassion for them within our own heart. If we pray as we should , the Lord will work within us so that a desire will be born within us to go into the field and work for the harvest. (We will be like Isaiah – !)

Church is more than a building

Many Christians today don’t view their homes as one of the best contexts for ministry, and their workplaces are some of the most overlooked places for mentoring and mission.

Most people will spend one third of their lives at work and at least another third in or around their homes; that means that more than two-thirds of our lives are considered non-ministry space. In addition, most still believe church is a place you go for one-to-four hours a week where most of the discipleship happens. This means a very large majority of Christians see only a very small percentage of their lives dedicated to the mission of making disciples. It’s no wonder so few believers are fruitful in ministry.

What if we could help everyday people live with gospel intentionality in everyday life, both at work and at home, to make disciples? What if every workplace, school, neighborhood, and café were filled with Spirit-filled, Jesus-loving, disciple-makers every day? We might just see cities and towns saturated with the presence, power, and love of Jesus through everyday people.

Communities centered around mission are the heart of what God has called His Church to be and do. It’s time to equip and mobilize Jesus’ church out of the building and into life.

Adapted: Alan Carr (sermonnotebook.org), Jeff Vanderstelt (vergenetwork.org)